President Donald Trump had his first labor board nominee approved Wednesday, marking a major step to securing an agency that could become critical to his agenda. Marvin Kaplan was approved by the Senate in a 50 to 48 vote.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) consists of five members that oversee labor dispute cases. Trump will essentially gain majority control of the agency once he fills two empty seats. Kaplan will soon fill one of those seats with his nomination being approved by the Senate.
Kaplan was nominated to fill one of the two vacant seats June 19. He currently serves as the chief counsel of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Kaplan previously worked as counsel for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee along with the House Education and the Workforce Committee. He was particularity focused on labor and employment oversight.
William Emanuel was also nominated to fill the other vacant seat on the board. He currently works as an employment lawyer in Los Angeles for the law firm Littler Mendelson. Philip Miscimarra has already begun serving as the chairman of the board. He was previously a member and served as the acting chairman.
Senate Democrats expressed concern during a recent confirmation hearing that the nominees have shown an anti-union bias in the past.
“We all know strong unions have helped create the middle class,” Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, ranking member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said before the vote. “But over the last few decades we have seen a decline in unions and membership.”
Trump has made working class issues a cornerstone of his agenda. The NLRB could prove critical in implementing his platform. Former President Barack Obama oversaw the board at a time critics denounced it as overly activist. Republicans hope the president’s picks will bring balance back to the agency.
“Marvin Kaplan will help to restore fairness to the National Labor Relations Board on issues directly impacting restaurants, including joint employment liability,” Cicely Simpson, the executive vice president of the National Restaurant Association, told InsideSources. “The National Restaurant Association thanks the Senate for their confirmation of Marvin and we urge a swift vote on William Emanuel’s nomination to fully staff the NLRB.”
The NLRB was able to implement the changes during the last administration by altering how it ruled on cases. The Obama administration argued the changes were designed to better protect workers. The NLRB focused on how union elections are held, how companies can contract together, and how contract workers are classified.